Breadth vs Depth of Knowledge in BJJ


Kroyler’s Pro-Tip on Breadth vs Depth of Knowledge:

Let's discuss the idea of better to have breadth or depth of knowledge in jiu-jitsu…

First, let’s define some terms...

1.Breadth of knowledge

a.Regards the numbers of techniques one may not, as in volume.

i.Narrow breadth equates to knowing a few techniques

ii.Wide breadth equates to knowing an incredible number of techniques

b.Keep in mind that Narrow and Wide breadth are definitions that change dependent on who youare comparing it to. Meaning a white belts knowledge may be narrow in comparison to a purple belt’s, however it is very wide in comparison to someone that doesn’t train jiu-jitsu at all.

2.Depth of Knowledge

a.Regards to how well you know the techniques you have learned, as in true understanding.

i.Shallow depth of knowledge means you may have seen, or learned the technique in a class, but you may not understand why it works only that if you do it right it will work. Essentially it means you can recognize the piece of the puzzle but not where it fits. It also means you may be able to pull it off in a perfect situation or likely against a lower belt that can’t protect themselves.

ii.Deep Depth of knowledge means you not only have learned a technique, but you have studied it to a high level of understanding. Meaning you understand all the nuances and the importance of all the steps and details of the technique. It means you know how the technique falls in the flow of a fight, the timing. You also understand all the variables and all the modifications that exist and are necessary to adjust for reactions that you cannot control in order to still make the technique functional. It means you know how to properly set up and how to properly finish that technique.  Meaning you not only recognize that piece of the puzzle and the image on it, but you recognize where it falls before even seeing the puzzle.

b.Keep in mind that Shallow and Deep Depths of knowledge will very much change over your journey and the definitions are also very much based on who you compare it to.

Today we will only discuss Breadth of knowledge. Its far too great of a topic to cover both of theseconceptsvia a pro tip. I would rather do it justice and break it up or better yet, I rather do it in person on theshow...If only kipperdoodles and Paulie could get their shit together and journey down here to visit me….

So back totopic.

Breadth of knowledge...How big should our breadth of knowledge be?

Should we know just a few techniques in each position that we can rely on and then build our plan of attack based on those few techniques? Some would argue yes. A narrow breadth of knowledge usuallyimplies depth of knowledge. That isn’t true. A white belt has only a few techniques in his arsenal, thus a narrow breadth of knowledge, but no one would ever claim a white belt has depth of technique.

So,to argue that a narrow breadth of knowledge means you have a deep depth of knowledge is incorrect and not true, of course there are exceptions, but as a general rule it is false and builton afallacious premise.

Generally speaking, the mentality of having a narrow breadth of knowledge will allow for very rapidshort-termgains in efficiency. As you don’t have to think too much about any one position, as you know only a few techniques in each position. It makes your plan simpleand easy. This is the pro/positive side.

However, narrow breadth of knowledge also means you aren’t creative, youcan’tdevelop troubleshooting skills (as you are taught to just keep trying for the 1 or 2 techniques you know in that position), and you will always be subpar in jiu-jitsu especially over time as you move up in rank as your opponents will be forcing you to fight in areas you never explored. This is the con/downside.

To simplify, a narrow breadth means short term gains andlong-termstruggles.

Should we then focus on a wide breadth of knowledge? Some would argue yes.But awide breadth of knowledge would usually imply shallow depth of knowledge. A jack of all trades master of none.

It needs to be understood that the ideology that if someone knows a lot of different techniques that their understanding must be shallow is fallacious.

While it may be true that the white belt that claims to know 50 techniques will have a very shallow understanding of those techniques, the black belt that may know 300 techniques will never be doubted on their depth of understanding.This too has exceptions as not all black belts are the same.

So, the ideology that having a wide breadth of knowledge will cause a very slowshort-termgain in efficiency. As there will simply be too many things to think in any givenpositions becauseyou know so many different techniques that in your mind,may applyto any given situation. It makes your planning difficultand complex. This is the con/negative side.

The pro/positive side to this is what then? Afterall,for every yin there is a yang. The positive here is width of knowledge will allow for creativity, it'll help you develop a wide array of troubleshooting skills, and over time you will far out perform the narrow breadth of knowledgepractitioneras you will be able tocreate intricate plans to which the narrow breadth knowledge opponent can’t think their way out of.


So,which should we pick? Well the answer will be in a future pro-tip… We need to continue down this path together so that we can discuss Depth of Knowledge as well.


Once we have discussed that we continue our journey together and discuss the relationship and interaction of the depth of knowledge and breadth of knowledge have on each other. Only then will we be able to accurately discern which path we should take.


So please bear with me, and more so with Paul for hishorridreading, and soon we will finish this small journey in the path of the true jiu-jitsu lifestyleand the development of our “Game”.

Kip Dice